They spat holy water

A tv show rented a newly constructed house in a suburb and set up appointments with several psychics to check on hidden spirits and forces and fossnagles. They also set up a dozen hidden cameras to capture the skilled professional checking.

[A] duo named Susan and Rev. Joseph said there was negative energy in the house. “It’s negative in the sense that it could cause setbacks, it can cause financial setbacks,” Susan said. To purge it, they burned incense and chanted all over the house, and claimed to have trapped the negative energy in a bottle.

Despite their supposed abilities, the psychics were not aware that Jeff Rossen had been monitoring their activities from a control room upstairs in the home. When he revealed himself to them, he asked: “How is it possible that you were able to find all of this negative energy? This is a brand-new house, no one’s lived in it before.”

“It’s not a haunted house, but spirits roam in empty places, they roam in hallways,” Susan said.

“Isn’t this just hocus pocus to take advantage of homeowners?” Rossen asked.

“No, no, no,” Rev. Joseph protested. As the pair spoke to Rossen, one of their associates tried to block the camera and scooped up the cash the Rossen team had brought to pay them.

Good thinking. Always scoop up the cash – even when you know you’re on camera.

When another team of psychics arrived, they announced: “There’s a presence of two or three entities here … They won’t let you feel comfortable here, you’ll just be stuck. [You] won’t be able to find a job. You’ll want to move.”

After the Rossen team agreed to let them help, they spat holy water, puffed cigar smoke, banged on the walls and rolled a coconut around. “Most likely there was domestic violence here,” a psychic named Medina declared. “Repeat to yourself, ‘the house is clear, the house is pure.'” Their fee was $1,021.

And there were others. The Duke and the Dauphin would be impressed.


  1. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Damn…if I had less ethics, I would totally split the money with home developers…..

  2. RJW says

    I noticed that “psychics” was written without the quotation marks.
    $1021! Another nice little earner, and without all those years at university or learning a trade.
    Their schtick was just so 20th century, feng shui is the current favorite of the superstitious and gullible.

  3. Kevin Kehres says

    Let’s face it. Anyone who would call them has a great big “scam me” sign stuck to their forehead.
    They’re getting off easy with only a grand. We’re raising a generation of kinder, gentler grifters.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Kevin @#5– that is, of course, victim blaming. There is an entire industry (with scores of bad TV shows, publications, books, “news” stories “experts” on talk shows, etc.) devoted to feeding false information to ignorant people looking for real information. That individuals are unprepared to deal with slick, practiced scammers is not surprising, and not their fault. And “getting off easy”? A grand would mean serious belt-tightening in Cuttlefamilia, and we are better off than a great many.

    No, there is a very clear place to put the blame in this case, and it is not the homeowners.

  5. Kevin Kehres says

    …at some point in the emptor, someone has to caveat…

    To absolve people from their responsibility to not fall for woo — from psychic readings to fung shui to the local priest blessing the house — excuses them.

    Sorry. Not me. No excuse. There’s plenty of information out there. This is a crime with willing victims (unlike just about every other type of crime I can think of, except maybe prostitution, depending on your definition of “victim” in that setting). They quite literally ask to be scammed. Yes, they indeed have to bear some of the blame in this situation.

    And there are plenty of scammers perfectly willing to take the credulous for thousands of dollars a month in such stuff. People are drained dry. At some point, “WAKE UP, YOU MORON!!!” needs to be shouted at these people.

    If our response is merely to “tsk tsk” at the scammers, we’ve done nothing…literally nothing…to interrupt the cycle. It’s quite possibly the least effective intervention this side of prayer.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    There are laws in the EU that require frauds… er, sorry, “psychics” who charge money for their services to declare explicitly that those services are “for entertainment only”. They led to a change in UK law in 2008, and the woos didn’t like it one bit…

    Has that stopped woo-woos scamming the public? Take a guess. 🙁

    But it has effectively removed any excuse people might have for falling for it.

  7. says

    …at some point in the emptor, someone has to caveat…
    To absolve people from their responsibility to not fall for woo — from psychic readings to fung shui to the local priest blessing the house — excuses them.

    No, it doesn’t.

    Human cognition is not that simplistic. Most adults have adequate access to information that, if rationally and logically examined, would lead them to reject religion. But they don’t. Why? Well, the why of it is a fascinating question, and we only have the most cursory of answers. Investigating the reasons is not excusing the people for doing something wrong. Anyway, nobody needs excusing from anything that isn’t hurting anyone but themselves.

    This is why the Skeptics™ fail. People are not machines. Pretending that they are is not rational.

  8. RJW says

    @11 SallyStrange,

    Agreed. Religion is probably a by-product of behavioral characteristics that gave humans an evolutionary advantage.
    It’s difficult for those of us who don’t ‘have the gene for religion’ to understand why otherwise educated and intelligent people believe in the supernatural without any evidence whatsoever. It’s naive to assume that religious or superstitious people are open to reason on the subject of belief, if they were, they wouldn’t be religious.

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